Feminist icon’s life became the embodiment of hope for women far and near

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death set in motion a discouraging political battle in the United States

Standing at barely five feet tall, the somewhat shy and soft-spoken woman often surprised her colleagues with her attitude and intelligence. (WFU Law School/Creative Commons)

Ginsburg served 27 years on the United States’ highest court and, with time, became one of its most prominent and iconic members. As the second-ever woman appointed to the Supreme Court, Ginsburg was no stranger to adversity.

She spearheaded the fight against gender discrimination and changed the world for women as we know it. Before sporting judicial robes, she fought against laws that restricted women’s lives and livelihoods and worked to destroy legislation that sustained the assumption that women were of lesser value than men within the lower courts.

Ginsburg’s life was an inspiration. She was born on Mar. 15, 1933, in Brooklyn, New York, where she later grew up in Brooklyn’s Flatbush neighbourhood. Although the Bader’s were not devout, the family belonged to a conservative synagogue, where Ginsburg learned the basic principles of the Jewish faith and became familiar with the Hebrew language.

Her mother, Celia, took an active role in her education and encouraged her to pursue a college degree. The day before Ginsburg’s high school graduation, her mother died of cancer, leaving only her memory behind to encourage Ginsburg throughout her studies. The Supreme Court Justice credits her mother’s passion for education as a significant influence on her love for academia.

Ginsburg later graduated from Cornell University as the highest-ranking female in her class and soon attended Harvard Law School, where she and eight other women experienced extreme gender discrimination.

The dean of Harvard Law reportedly invited Ginsburg and her cohort over for dinner, where he famously asked the women why they were at Harvard Law taking a man’s place at the university. When her husband took a job in New York City, she transferred to Columbia Law, where she tied for first in her class and became the first-ever woman to serve on two major law reviews.

In 1972, Ginsburg co-founded the Women’s Rights Project at the American Civil Liberties Union. Between 1973 and 1976, she argued six gender discrimination cases before the Supreme Court in which she won five.

The Women’s Rights Project and the ACLU fought in upwards of 300 gender discrimination cases throughout the 1970s. Ginsburg’s work as the project’s general counsel directly ended gender discrimination by law and marked a massive win for feminists worldwide.

Ginsburg was an unlikely revolutionist. Standing at barely five feet tall, the somewhat shy and softspoken woman often surprised her colleagues with her attitude and intelligence.

By the time she was 80, she had become a pop-culture icon, well known as the Notorious R.B.G. Her stardom could not have been predicted from the start of her career, as the cards were undoubtedly stacked against her.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg inspired women of all ages to speak up and never step down in the face of adversity. Without her crusade against gender discrimination, our current reality might look substantially less inclusive. She was a special kind of feminist who fought hard for women everywhere.

R.I.P, R.B.G.

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